Clanking chain, the claw that snags,
the boat wind-bumped
beside the Bat Islands I heard as bad,
chop-tossed in my bunk all
night I didn’t sleep lost in fear
forged from everything I didn’t know
and don’t, hear anchor and think anvil
heavy under hammer and spark.
Say spark and I hear fat rain
hissing as it hits cement, ozone
crackling into my lungs, say breath
and I hear doves, demure
in their distant repetitions, telling again
how when the rain stopped,
the earth’s skin of water pulled
the tides back to the moon’s usual bidding.
In the ark of my skin, I suspect
the warnings are not in the sky, not
in the flight nor voices of birds,
but under my feet or tucked
in the chest of drawers swollen
stuck by forecasts for damp weather,
old panic stowed in my land-lubbing
bungalow brain where chance comes
knocking like the Fuller Brush man,
his black satchel of answers in hand
and I don’t open the door, where
on a good day, my bad leg
an anchor dragging, I’ll say
yes, keep me here in this life.
EDITOR’S NOTE: This poem was selected from entries submitted to our Creative Challenge Series #29: Word Salad, which required that the words bolded in the text must be included. Read other Creative Challenge winners. To find out how to participate, go to Creative Challenges.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Joannie Stangeland is the author of several poetry collections. She has also been published in journals including The Southern Review and Prairie Schooner.